Giant Mine Regulatory Context and Environmental Assessment
The Giant Mine Remediation Project must follow regulatory processes. This includes getting permits, licenses as well as an environmental assessment in 2008.
Laws and regulations the project must follow
Giant Mine is in the Mackenzie Valley in the Northwest Territories. The mine is on Commissioner's land within the municipal boundaries of the City of Yellowknife.
This site is regulated by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. The act and corresponding regulations are federal laws that help protect the lands and waters of the Mackenzie Valley.
The site must also follow other federal, territorial and municipal acts and regulations, such as:
- Canadian Environmental Protection Act and regulations
- Fisheries Act
- Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994
- Species at Risk Act
- Commissioner's Land Act (PDF) and regulations (PDF)
- City of Yellowknife zoning by-laws
For remediation, the project needs:
- a land use permit and a water licence from the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, which it received on September 16, 2020
- a Fisheries Act authorization from Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- quarry permits from the Government of the Northwest Territories
- development and building permits from the City of Yellowknife
Other permits may be needed. For example:
Information about the site is shared with residents throughout the licensing and permit process. This is to make sure that community consultation is part of the regulatory process.
The project team first applied for a water licence in 2007. The project then had to go through the environmental assessment process. The environmental assessment final decision was issued in August 2014. It included 26 legally-binding measures, which assigned different steps the project had to take to address concerns raised throughout the environmental assessment process. Some measures assigned specific tasks that had to be included and met as part of active remediation. Studies were done to address some of these measures allowing the project to resubmit and move forward with the water licence regulatory process.
From 2014 to 2019, the project team completed the measures that would allow it to go back into the regulatory process.
On April 1, 2019, the project team resubmitted its water licence package to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. The board was satisfied that the application was complete. With the board's permission, the project was allowed to continue through the process to get its water licence and land use permits. This process took 17 months.
On September 16, the Minister of Northern Affairs approved the project's Type A Water Licence. This means the project now has the regulatory authority to move into active remediation.
An environmental assessment is a legislated planning and evaluation process. The process identifies, predicts and evaluates the potential environmental effects of a proposed project.
Learn more: Environmental impact assessment overview.
Environmental assessments help protect:
- the environment
- the social, cultural and economic well-being of residents
While the project isn't a new development, there were public concerns. As a result, its remediation plan was sent for environmental assessment in March 2008.
The responsible ministers issued their Report of Environmental Assessment (PDF) on August 14, 2014.
Responsible ministers included:
- Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (Government of Canada)
- Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (Government of Canada)
- Minister of Environment (Government of Canada)
- Minister of Environment and Natural Resources (Government of the Northwest Territories)
The report confirmed:
- the project had been thoroughly reviewed, including potential social and environmental impacts
- the frozen block method is the best way to clean up arsenic trioxide at this time
The report also listed 26 measures to address public concerns. The project team had to complete these measures before remediation could move forward.
The ministers' decision:
- gave focus for the next phase of engagement, design and decision-making
- accepted the measures, some of which included activities the project needed to complete before it could resubmit its water licence application
The project team applied for a water licence and land use permit in April 2019. The application included:
- a revised closure and reclamation plan
- supporting documents
The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board reviewed the application by carrying out a public review process which included written comments, technical sessions and public hearings over an 18-month period.
The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board approved the Land Use Permit on August 7, 2020. The Minister of Northern Affairs approved the water licence in September 16, 2020. This gave the project regulatory authorization, or permission, to start remediation.